Nursing Niamey

Published 12:04 am Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stacey Frank stands in the middle of the Sahara Desert in Niger during her recent nine-month mission trip. Courtesy photo

Fresh out of nursing school, Andalusia resident Stacey Frank recently embarked on a journey of a lifetime, she said.

Frank, who graduated from LBWCC last May, earning her associates in nursing degree, said she’s always wanted to do some form of mission work, took her nursing skills to the mission field.

“Not so many people sign up to go to Niger,” she said. “I searched from October to March trying to find the right place.”

When she did find the right organization, it was through a mission organization called INB.

“They sent me to Niamey, Niger,” she said. “I literally took my boards on Thursday and left the following Tuesday. I didn’t even know if I passed until after I got there.”

For the next nine months, she was immersed in a non-English speaking country in the midst of the Sahara Desert in Africa.

“I had to learn to speak Zerma and French,” she said. “That was definitely interesting. It’s kind of a weird language. It kind of like baby language. ‘Fo-Fo’ means ‘hello.’”

Frank said when she first arrived in Niger, she worked in a German-funded clinic, so there was also that language hurdle.

“It was interesting, but it was fun,” she said. “I got to see things such as leprosy.”

During the mission trip, she had to dress in traditional garb, which included having her hair covered and wearing long skirts.

She also ate traditional food while there.

“I ate grasshoppers while there,” she said. “It tasted like Worcestershire sauce.”

Frank said another main staple is millet cakes, which is a corn-like plant. Many natives ate soured milk and millet cake as well as tree leap sap with the millet.

One of the most significant memories she has is when a girl was brought in the clinic for being dehydrated, and no one else could start her IV.

“They asked me to do it,” she said. “I thought, ‘If they can’t get it, surely I can’t because they have more experience.’”

However, Frank said she prayed before she was able to start an IV, and she successfully started it.

Frank said nursing in Niger is much different than nursing here.

“These people really need our help, and they were very appreciative,” she said. “Here, people get mad at you if you don’t fluff their pillow correctly.”

Frank also contracted malaria five times.

“I finally got Dr. Yongkuma on the phone, and he told me what to do,” she said. “I had the malaria that lives in the liver. I finally got it gone.”

Malaria is one of the diseases they frequently encountered in the mission field, Frank said.

“There you don’t have to have a prescription to get medicine,” she said. “It costs about $5 for a box of medicine that treats malaria, but a family only makes about $12 a week there. We would take it out to people.”

Additionally, Frank said the majority of the population is Muslim, and she and others held Kids Club for many of the village’s children.

“We would take mats out sand teach the kids about Jesus using a felt board in Zerma,” she said. “We also had to teach them how to color.”

Frank said seven local churches and the Covington Baptist Association sponsored her trip.

Frank plans to take another trip from Jan. 27 through Feb. 5.

The cost is around $3,500. Frank said more information can be found on Facebook under Stacey Frank Missions.

-Kendra Bolling